By Capt. Austin Liu, 6-52nd Air Defense Artillery, 35th ADA Brigade Public AffairsJune 29, 2011
SUWON AIR BASE, South Korea - Pfc. Erica Asbury always greets each and every one of her customers going through the chow line.
This morning was no exception.
"How are you doing today?” Asbury asked with a welcoming smile as she poured a hearty portion of biscuits and gravy onto a Soldier’s plate. “I hope you have a wonderful day.”
She would say this to all of the dining facility customers, whom by now would be impressed by both the sweet aroma of the food they were about to enjoy and the unexpected hospitality shown during their brief stay.
As promised by the dining facility team of 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery, the customers will always leave with more than just satisfied taste buds. And this morning was no exception.
But what is different about today, June 24, is that instead of serving their customers inside their air-conditioned dining facility, these Army food service personnel are catering breakfast from the Mobile Kitchen Trailer sitting on a field tactical site.
And their customers include a team of highly-skilled evaluators from Eighth Army G-4, assessing whether Suwon Dining Facility will be representing the Korean Peninsula to compete for the Department of Army Phillip Connelly Award, Field Kitchen Category, scheduled this Fall.
Asbury and her team knew the importance of this morning’s evaluation and they were prepared.
Despite her obvious youth, the 19-year-old West Virginia native took charge of her MKT team and diligently performed all of the tasks required of her team to serve not only a delectable, but more importantly, a healthy meal.
“My team and I are being evaluated this morning on our ability to provide quality food service in a field environment in accordance with all the published standards and procedures,” said Asbury, who has been working at the Suwon DFAC since her arrival in Korea last December.
And there is more than meets the eye or taste buds when it comes to a field kitchen evaluation.
"A myriad of tasks are being evaluated this morning, to include even the most miniscule detail on the paper record of the equipment being utilized, the correct temperature of cooking and dish washing and the proper layout of a food service site,” said Staff Sgt. Lindell Smith, the Suwon DFAC competition team noncommissioned officer-in-charge.
For this reason, Smith told his team prior to the competition, “Remember the key to success this morning would be attention to detail.”
To add to the stress of the competition is that fact that part of the evaluation also requires the food service team to react to simulated enemy attacks.
Fortunately, judging by the positive reaction from the evaluators, the Suwon DFAC team has followed Smith’s advice and performed well during the evaluation.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Don Urie, who is the chief evaluator from Eighth Army G-4, expressed that he was “very pleased and impressed with what he witnessed today.”
Urie said, “I am especially impressed with the junior 92Gs [food service specialists] taking charge and performing above their pay grade this morning.”
“I am very proud of my team and what they have achieved this morning,” Asbury said.
Asbury and her team felt even prouder that night when they found out the Suwon DFAC had edged out stiff competition from around the Korean Peninsula and will be representing Eighth Army during this year’s Department of the Army Phillip Connelly Award Competition " Field Kitchen Category.
As they basked in the adulation of winning the Eighth Army title, Asbury and her team knew that if they continue to perform above and beyond the standard, just like they do every day and just as the faces of their customers reflected, the Department of the Army title will soon be theirs as well.
Philip Connelly Competition is an annual food service competition that evaluates U.S. Army food service personnel stationed around the world on their ability to prepare food and uphold the standard to taste and nutrition, while maintaining sanitation requirements.
According to Urie, one of the biggest benefits of the Connelly Award is that “it brings the much-needed attention to a special and dedicated group of Soldiers [Army food preparation specialists] who perhaps have the hardest but least recognized MOS [military occupation specialty] in the U.S. Army today.”
The Eighth Army Phillip Connelly Award " Garrison Category Winner will be announced next month.